What is a Marketing Plan?
You want to grow your business and you know that marketing is the key to that growth. However, how you’re going to tackle that marketing is a different story of its own. You know where the business is capable of going, where your team is capable of taking it - but you need the growth in revenue and sales to help get you there. That’s where a marketing plan comes in. A marketing plan acts as a roadmap on how to get from where you are now, to where you want to be. A marketing plan presents a clear understanding of the business, sets expectations and standards while taking away room for confusion with future team members.
So, what is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is an internal data-based written plan that guides your marketing efforts. It considers where you've been, where you want to go, the current market, who you're targeting, budget, time and resources available along with any other relevant data. It should provide a step-by-step plan on how to proceed with your organization's marketing at any given time. As time progresses and you accomplish your goals, the plan will continue to evolve.
This is something that guides your internal decisions on marketing and what to focus on. It will help guide what you spend time and resources on, what avenues you pursue and the order you pursue those avenues in.
At The Social Brand, we make sure that our client’s marketing plans have a clear marketing strategy included which is the foundation of the actual plan.
We believe that marketing plans ensure the success of a business...ANY business.
Is it different from a business plan?
Another common question we hear about marketing plans is - isn’t this covered in the business plan? The answer is yes… and no.
Most businesses require a business plan and a marketing plan because a marketing plan explains the how of the business plan. By this, we mean that a marketing plan explains the steps along the way that are required in order to achieve the business plan.
So, what is a marketing plan?
What does a marketing plan consist of?
It only takes a quick Google search to see various examples of what a marketing plan looks like. Marketing plans come in many different forms and don’t need to be extremely long, but they do need to be intentional, detailed and strategic.
Some common elements to a marketing plan are:
Each plan will be unique and will change based upon industry, services and products, but these categories will typically stay consistent.
Don’t think too hard about each section, it can get overwhelming. Just take each element one at a time.
The executive summary is a fancy phrase for business overview. Who is your business, what is your background, what are your goals for this marketing plan...etc. You’ll also want to include your core values, mission statement and tagline(s). You might think about including information about external factors that could be affecting revenue or the efficiency of the current marketing plan.
Situation analysis looks at your current marketing efforts while summarizing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and even possible threats. This is a crucial section that will be the baseline for your marketing strategy. It will show why you need to increase efforts in one area or decrease efforts in another. It’s also a good area to refer back to when reevaluating how your marketing plan is performing in the future.
Marketing goals and business objectives are tied to each other. Your business objectives will determine what your marketing goals will be. If you’d like to increase your overall ROI from a certain demographic of your target audience, you’ll need to create a goal for marketing to that target audience. This section could become pretty lengthy but don’t let that deter you. The more detailed, the better.
Target audience, like we just mentioned above, is who you want to see your marketing. These specific people who are either the people you want to attract or they are already coming to you most often. If you cast your net too wide, you will end up attracting less people than you think you will. The more specific you become, the better. In order for someone to connect with your brand, you need to speak directly to those people with a tone of voice that is attractive to them and messaging that will resonate with them in a meaningful way. By trying to speak to everyone, you’ll essentially speak to noone. Niche down...hard.
Unique selling proposition is essentially what makes you special? What sets you apart? What are you going to offer your clients or audience that will capture their attention and ultimately make them want to become a customer or patient? Again, becoming specific about this is crucial. Think about what the client wants, what’s in it for them? What is something that would benefit them in a big way?
Messaging guidelines is a big one that you don’t want to leave out. If you have a marketing team or would like to add one in the future, it’s helpful to have guidelines on what is permitted and what is not. What type of verbiage is going to be the norm and what are you going to avoid at all costs? Think about how you want your audience to feel when they come to your website or scroll through your social media, and even walk into your office. What’s the goal? That is how you want your messaging to come across. Luckily, you are the one who controls that!
Never underestimate a good plan. As a digital marketing agency we see businesses everyday who did not set up clear parameters around their marketing. The result of this was a confused audience and missing revenue goals.
Many business owners will often avoid marketing efforts because some of them are not always trackable in regards to their ROI. This is understandable since your bottom line is your main priority. It’s easy to get caught up in a numbers game, but if you trust the process and the experts, you’ll start to hear compliments on your marketing as well as see an increase in monthly revenue that will be indirectly related to that time spent on determining your tone of voice, target audience and clear messaging. It’s all worth it, we promise.
Ready to jump-start your marketing? Take our marketing plan mini-course now!